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Disability Policy

Disability Policy

In order to support the development of inclusive rugby and to promote opportunities for people with a disability to access the game, the IRFU aims to integrate as many players as is safe and practicable into existing rugby clubs, as well as partner with related disability organisations to provide rugby to players with a disability.


• To support participants with a physical, sensory or learning disability to achieve their potential through the game of rugby in a safe and inclusive manner
• To understand the needs of various disability groups and to identify issues that may affect those with disabilities who wish to access the game
• To provide coaches and referees with disability specific information and training
• To provide safe and fun opportunities to players with a disability
• To include principles of inclusion within coaching and club development practices resulting in more people gaining access to the game
The framework will be used to shape the work of the staff and club volunteers, assisting nominated clubs to grow the game, especially in the area of tag and mixed ability rugby. It is also intended to promote related disability organisations to make the game as accessible and inclusive to as many people as possible.

Key Areas for Development

• Continued expansion of a ‘hub’ of clubs that provide an introduction to the game of rugby for younger players through tag disability rugby
• To provide resources for clubs and schools wishing to set up a disability rugby team. This allows a club to assess the sustainability of the disability section within the club
• To educate volunteers in coaching and refereeing so that activities are well resourced
• Develop MOUs with related disability organisations, striving to become as inclusive as possible, in particular in the area of sensory disability


In January 2015, a working group found a desire among schools and clubs to expand existing activities across the clubs and Provinces. A Disability Committee was formed. In 2017 this committee came under the umbrella of the Spirit of Rugby Committee. A nominated Disability Representative reports on developments across the country and from time to time forms working groups to further plan and develop rugby for players with a disability.

The plan was reviewed and updated in 2020 and outlines future developments across the game. Following the appointment of the IRFU Disability & Inclusion Officer whose role it is to implement the framework.

The Spirit of Rugby Committee will monitor the framework for the playing, coaching and promotion of rugby for people with disabilities. Any work in this area will be done in line with IRFU values and other existing SPIRIT projects.

If you are interested in finding our more information, please contact our Disability & Inclusion Officer –  email David McKay

IRFU Disability Framework





·       IRFU Disability Framework agreed by Spirit Committee August 2020

·       Mapping of nominated clubs in place for October 2020

·       Link with Spirit theme, inclusivity to provide for club sustainability



·       Consultation with clubs to assess interest and engagement for players with a disability

·       Complete ‘map’ of disability hubs where disability teams can function sustainably within existing clubs and provide access across the country

·       Expand tag disability project to 50 clubs and identify links to suitable services, schools and related organisations

·       Expand Mixed Ability Rugby to from 5 to 7 clubs, 2 Leinster, 2 Munster, 2 Ulster and 1 Connacht

·       Signposting/Directory of Supports and Services for deaf rugby players/coaches included in resources, (link with NDCS & Chime) and create point of contact for deaf rugby for clubs

·       MOU with IWA formalised

·       Develop IRFU specific Disability inclusion training for Staff and Volunteers

·       Development of Disability Sub Committee in Ulster and Leinster

·       Update Disability section of IRFU website

·       Develop calendar of events for disability tag sections and mixed ability




·       Link Local Authorities, Sports Partnerships and public/health services to clubs

·       20 clubs complete rugby Disability Inclusion training

·       Disability Chair on Spirit reports on framework at Spirit Committee meetings, create provincial governance and link with rugby committees

·       Provide Cara Charter to Clubs in Ireland and investigate similar for clubs in NI

·       Update Framework at Spirit Committee Meeting May 2022

·       Update resources – ‘case study’ for clubs as model of best practice

·       Evaluate Projects and make adjustments to disability hubs

·       MOU with Deaf Sport Ireland

·       MOU with Vision Sport Ireland

·       Provide access to deaf at international and provincial matches

·       Promote and provide tag rugby sessions for deaf individuals

·       Encourage increased participation in deaf rugby in Ireland through schools’ programmes

·       Rules PDFs for various offerings of rugby (accessible format) with Lámh

·       Develop 2-hour module with Lámh – rugby specific communication for all club members and link with equivalent organisations in NI

·       MOU with Wooden Spoon Charity to formalise relationship with IRFU

·       Players with a sensory disability to participate in spring/spring rugby competitions


·       To partner with Cara to gather feedback from players through SI youth consultation model. Investigate similar in NI

·       IRFU Development Staff to refresh disability training through staff development days and related session

·       To educate 200 volunteers in coaching and refereeing

·       To link disability resources to coach education programme through HIVE

·       To investigate further formats of the game to include with other disability support organisation

·       That people with a variety of disabilities can contribute to club environment, coaching, refereeing, volunteering.

·       Contact CPI and others to investigate capacity for additional MOUs

·       Investigate the possibility of a national deaf rugby team to compete at international level

·       Provide opportunities for players to undertake volunteer and coaching training (e.g. provide interpreters at training for deaf, tag players as coaches, etc)

·       Deaf Rugby teams participate in tag rugby competition (spring/ summer leagues)

·       Create link with university working on technology for people with a disability to open access to stadiums and related resources

·       Assist with IMART 2022

·       Partner with Lámh to provide user guides for IMART 2022



·       To increase the number of females with a disability playing rugby

·       IWA teams to form link with IRFU Provincial teams to raise profile of players

·       To educate 300 Volunteers in Coaching and refereeing